How Do Chiropractic Adjustments Work?

September 27, 2021
Categories: Chiropractic Care
how do chiropractic adjustments work

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It’s easy to understand what chiropractors do: Think of chronic low back pain, headache, neck pain, and other musculoskeletal injuries. 

Chiropractors can address many conditions that affect the nervous or musculoskeletal systems. 

These practitioners don’t usually prescribe pain relief medication. Instead, they use chiropractic adjustment (also known as spinal manipulation) to detect the cause of pain, adjust the joints, and improve spinal motion and body functions. If performed by a licensed and trained chiropractor, it is safe, non-invasive, and effective.

Additionally, chiropractic adjustments don’t only work during treatments. Chiropractors also strive to help people prevent diseases. You can come into their office to optimize your health and prevent getting sick in a holistic way.

But how does a chiropractic adjustment work? Does it really work? Keep reading to learn more.

What Is a Chiropractic Adjustment?

Chiropractic adjustment, commonly known as spinal manipulation, involves the use of an instrument or trained specialists (chiropractors) to apply controlled force to a spinal canal. 

Chiropractors examine the entire musculoskeletal system to find the root cause. They ensure that not only are the joints moving correctly but that all surrounding muscles are working well.

It aims to reduce pain, correct alignment, and improve overall physical function. To be effective, your chiropractor must be able to determine when and how to apply precise force.

A 2017 research report shows that spinal manipulation or chiropractic adjustments are associated with slight improvements in pain and nerve function for up to six weeks.

Most treatments are not painful. However, soreness is a common side effect. It’s similar to the feeling you get after a hard workout. Your muscles will eventually adapt.

Chiropractic adjustment works for all ages, including children. The intensity and force of the procedure will vary depending on the individual. To ensure that all practice members are suitable for chiropractic care, they must be screened. 

[Related: Benefits of Pediatric Chiropractic Care]

Depending on the screening results, a chiropractor may prescribe:

  • Soft-tissue therapy to relax tight muscles, ease spasms and release tension in the fascia (the connective tissue surrounding each muscle).
  • Gentle adjustments on joints to increase range-of-motion
  • Stretches and exercises to restore mobility and improve range of motion.
  • Referrals to complementary and integrative health experts (also known as complementary and alternative medicine practitioners) to receive guidance on diet, nutrition, and inflammation reduction.

[Related: The 10 Benefits of Chiropractic Adjustments]]

Signs That You Need a Chiropractic Adjustment

Low Back Pain

  • Intense or constant back pain when moving.
  • Pain radiating down from your back to your legs or other body parts.
  • Tingling or weakness in the legs.
  • Redness or swelling of the back.

Neck Pain

  • Persistent painful and stiff neck.
  • Sharp or prolonged pain when moving.
  • No improvements despite taking prescription or over-the-counter medications.
  • Pain or injury from an auto accident.


A report by the American Chiropractic Association states that chiropractic adjustments can relieve common headaches like tension, cervicogenic, or migraine.

[Related: Can A Chiropractor Help My Headache?]

How Do Chiropractic Adjustments Work

chiropractic adjustment

What to Expect

Your chiropractor will conduct a thorough physical exam with special attention to your spine at your first visit. Other tests and examinations, such as X-rays, may be recommended.

During the Procedure

Your chiropractor will place you in certain positions during a chiropractic adjustment to treat the affected areas. You may be positioned facedown on a specially designed and padded chiropractic table. 

The chiropractor applies a controlled, abrupt force to a joint using his or her hands, pushing it beyond its normal range of motion. During treatment, you may hear crackling or popping sounds from your chiropractor moving your joints.

Following the Procedure

Some people may experience mild side effects after undergoing chiropractic adjustments for a few days. They may include headaches or fatigue as well as pain in the affected areas.


Research suggests that spinal manipulation or adjustments are effective in relieving chronic pain such as back pain, neck pain, headaches, sciatica, auto accident injuries, and even sports injuries.

The expected results are pain relief, improved range of motion, and restoration of your overall health.

Spinal adjustments may not be for everyone. It all depends on the individual situation. Chiropractic adjustment may not be the best choice if your symptoms do not improve after several weeks.

You Don’t Have to Be In Pain to Benefit From Chiropractic Care

prenatal chiropractic care

Many people think that they need chiropractic treatment when they need to decrease pain. However, there are many other reasons you may benefit from chiropractic therapy.

  1. Reduce stress: Everyone gets stressed out with life, but a chiropractor will be able to give you immediate relief from any stress by decreasing any muscle tension. This is similar to mind-body therapies like yoga, meditation, and massages. Also, we can improve your circulation – which will promote relaxation throughout your body.
  2. Osteoporosis: Many people know Osteoporosis as a ‘silent disease.’ This is because you don’t feel it when your bones begin to weaken. Instead, you only notice when you get a fracture. A chiropractic adjustment is perfect for those who are suffering from osteoporosis because it will help with your spinal alignment and improve your range of motion. By doing this, you will be less likely to suffer from a fracture in the future.
  3. Pregnant women: It is no surprise that pregnant women tend to have back pain, but this doesn’t need to be the case for you. A chiropractor will be able to help ease any pain that you feel in your back, so you can walk around pain-free. Also, we will make sure that your pelvis is balanced, which lowers the chances of your baby being born breech.
  4. Text neck: Almost everyone we know has a smartphone and they’re glued to it. However, constantly looking down at that screen will ruin your posture and can lead to neck injuries. However, a chiropractor will be able to show you how to fix your posture, so you can prevent any neck injuries in the future.
  5. Go early: People tend to wait to come and see a chiropractor. You don’t wait to see a doctor when you think you’re sick with something, so you shouldn’t wait to come and see us when you feel any tightness in your muscles and joints. Instead, you should see a chiropractor as frequently as you can before the musculoskeletal pain worsens. This is because we can help prevent it from turning into anything serious

The Gonstead Method in Chiropractic Care

Many chiropractors combine several chiropractic techniques. This approach focuses on fixation (stiffness).  There’s also one method that focuses on finding the cause of a specific health concern. This is called the Gonstead Method.

The Gonstead Method is the gold standard in “hands-on” chiropractic adjustment. It values how the nervous system functions. No two spines are alike, that’s why there’s a need to do an individual analysis of each practice member’s nervous system.

Dr. Robert Boehland, Head Chiropractor of Cornerstone Family Chiropractic, specializes in the Gonstead Method. He spent many years studying the spine in its entirety and how the nervous system functions.

Call us today or book an appointment to know more and experience Cornerstone Family Chiropractic’s gold standard chiropractic care. We’ll be happy to assist you!

Leave us a comment below if you have any questions or thoughts about spinal adjustments. If you find this article helpful, don’t hesitate to share it with your friends!

Stay free. Keep doing life.

Optimal health lets you keep doing life on your terms. Schedule your next adjustment today.

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